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Thread: What camcorder would be best for airshows at the moment ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    45

    What camcorder would be best for airshows at the moment ?

    Hi,
    DSLR no good whatsoever, ditto mobilephones. Bridge cameras, tried a Nikon, view was wobbling about in viewfinder as if subject was on springs and had been knocked. Wish I could go for a camera that I could get stills from as well, saves lugging about DSLR and a camcorder, but need a decent viewfinder experience. Maybe there are better bridge camera experiences out there. Didnt like the first two bridge cameras I tried in a shop., a Sony and a Nikon, unless they were faulty. View was not stable.

    What camcorders fit the following requirements ?

    4K I would say is a must,
    recording to an internal SSD or something, no tape or disc.
    Powerful optical zoom,
    separate hotshoe for Rode video mic.
    Diopter adjustment for eyepiece,
    smooth zoom control, no wild zoom, but faster with more pressure given.
    Full manual control over shutter aperture and gain (auto at sky useless, and MUST HAVE ability to choose 1/50 sec to get proper blurred props)
    Auto exposure options dead centre or average across screen (ground shots).
    Getting the right exposure and having it adjust to suit aircraft flying in and out of shadows is crucial.
    Previous camcorder I would set up 1/50 f14 sun but then if a/c went into shadow just trying to turn the dial and get f8 saw a sudden jump in exposure and I never could find the knob anyway that easily.

    What do I need to get correct exposure on aircraft and backgrounds that vary from cloud to blue sky ?

    GOOD if not EXCELLENT battery life, batteries used to die part way through the day, lugging around three large ones, only to still have no power come the finale .

    Skylight filter fitment to protect lens essential.

    DBenz

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    West Sussex
    Posts
    136
    DBenz, Assuming that you are after a consumer quality video camera at under £1000 cost, rather than a far more expensive professional video camera above that price, I would recommend the Sony FDR-AX53 - see here :- https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/h...rders/fdr-ax53
    I have been using this camera for the past year, having previously used the earlier model AXP-33 - The AX/P/-33 only has 10 x optical zoom, whereas the AX53 has 20 x optical zoom, which is far more capable for airshow use.
    The FDR-AX53 has an electronic optical viewfinder as well as an LCD. You can adjust the viewfinder using a diopter on the side, but being a consumer camera the viewfinder window is a bit on the small side. That said, it does the job adequately. I have added a Panasonic large rubber eyecup to the viewfinder in order to be able to use it whilst wearing spectacles and to cut out excess light otherwise interfering with the viewfinder window - the reason I bought a Panasonic eyecup was that Sony do not make an eyecup for this model, nor one that would fit it. The Panasonic eyecup cost under £10 and I then adapted it to fit the camcorder by wrapping 2 or 3 large elastic bands around the camcorder viewfinder, as the circumference fit of the eyecup is slightly larger than the viewfinder.
    The FDR-AX53 records in 3 file formats - XAVS S 4K, XAVC S HD and AVCHD and can also dual video record in both 4k and AVCHD at the same time and onto the same memory card. It uses SD size memory cards - (I use 64GB Integral Ultima Pro X SDXC I UHS3 Class 10 cards with 60MB/s write speed). I record at 100mbps for the extra quality, but you can also record at 60mbps.
    You can manually adjust the following settings - White Balance, Spot Meter/Focus, Spot Meter, Spot Focus, Exposure, Focus, Iris, Shutter Speed (1/6 through to 1/10000 in steps, including 1/30, 1/50, 1/60, 1/100, 1/120, 1/150 etc), AGC limit, AE Shift, White balance shift, Low Lux. You can also assign the manual ring to one of the manual settings or zoom - I use it for AE shift. Although described as 'fully manual adjustable', it isn't because if you adjust the shutter speed to 1/50 the remaining manual settings are automatically adjusted to compensate, but there is a very effective workaround that I use to ensure that I can film at 1/50th second in order to get correct prop blur and not overexpose. To do this I have added a 55MM Hoya NDx8 filter to the front of the lens and then additionally shift AE using the lens ring.
    As well as 20 x optical zoom you can set digital zoom up to 250 x (which I have never used or needed).
    Photos - You can take still photos in photo mode at 16.6 megapixels, or take photos in reduced resolution at the same time as filming (but not when in 4K mode). I've found it quite useful for wide angle photos of static aircraft etc. when I don't want to have to switch from a zoom lens to a wide angle lens on my DSLR.
    One of the best features is the 'Balanced Optical Steadyshot' which allows for various steadyshot settings in various modes. I have been using the camera handheld and in 4K for airshow action with the steadyshot set to 'active' mode. There is an even stronger 'intelligent active' mode that can be set when not filming in 4K.
    Take a look at one of my film clips here for an example- this clip was filmed with the FDR-AX53 handheld as described :- https://youtu.be/gJwRT2kGuDk?list=PL...SWN6zSFi2_mR4v
    elsewhere on my YouTube channel you will also find numerous examples of props and rotors that give you a good idea of how the 1/50th speed setting works.
    The supplied battery gives over 2 hours continuous filming, but for a whole airshow day you will need at least 1 more or you can get a larger capacity 3hr plus battery as well (these are Sony NP-FV70 and NP-FV100 respectively).
    Sound - very good quality and adjustable settings. Will record in 2 ch stereo or 5:1 - latter not in 4K - I have also added a 'deadcat' modification to the built in microphone, made from a piece of fur and some sticky backed Velcro, which works pretty well as a cheap and lightweight solution.
    The FDR-AX53 also has a seperate hotshoe on the top for a Rode video/Mic etc.
    Weight of my FDR-AX53 with large capacity FV100 battery, 2 lens filters, eyecup, sd card and additional carry strap is 1lb 13oz.
    Sorry for the length and technicality of the reply, and please feel free to ask any further questions.

    Regards,

    Steve.
    Last edited by skeeler; 28th June 2017 at 17:59.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    45
    Hi,
    Thanks for the reply.
    This is so welcome and crucial.
    Earlier today I felt I had hit a 'progress barrier' in that the first camcorder I was looking at, a panasonic, I was told that to alter exposure (aperture) whilst filming on 1/50, I would have to turn on the side screen where all controls nowadays are sited, but doing so would turn off the view in the viewfinder. What use is that, all latest gimmicky touch panel but at expense of ending the filming ! I need to be filming on 1/50 and have camcorder make subtle adjustments to the exposure by varying the aperture whilst I actually film. No doubt dial in +1 or +1 compensation for when aiming at the sky. There is auto mode she said but it would choose a fast shutter speed faced with the sky backdrop and so I end up with still props.
    Ideally I need centre weighted metering to adjust exposure (aperture), ( I need to stay on 1/50) as it sees light levels change on aircraft, but as someone else pointed out, it isnt long before one manages to end up with aircraft not in centre of view then things would go darker ! So what is best method I wonder ?

    Does this camcorder have the ability to alter exposure as the sun goes in and out of cloud, or the aircraft go in and out of sun, whilst keeping to 1/50 ?

    You can also assign the manual ring to one of the manual settings or zoom - I use it for AE shift. Although described as 'fully manual adjustable', it isn't because if you adjust the shutter speed to 1/50 the remaining manual settings are automatically adjusted to compensate, but there is a very effective workaround that I use to ensure that I can film at 1/50th second in order to get correct prop blur and not overexpose. To do this I have added a 55MM Hoya NDx8 filter to the front of the lens and then additionally shift AE using the lens ring.
    Can you explain a bit more on this as I am unfamiliar with what AE refers to, what the manual ring is, etc. Sounds like shutter and aperture cannot be adjusted independent of each other manually, so if I feel the scene needs a bit more light i cant turn a knob and add an extra 1/3 f stop ? Do you keep the ND filter on through ground and air videoing ? Not quite sure how this enables the aperture to be controlled independent of the shutter.
    My old camcorder as I dialled in more aperture I saw it jump in light increments, this time I want progressive subtle increase in such, can this do that ?

    How can I set this up on 1/50 then film and have it adjust exposure to suit changes in light levels ? Pretty fundamental need in any videography or camera work but the world has lost sight of such it seems.

    Assure me the viewfinder stays live and I can get to aperture settings and alter them without having to turn on some side screen and lose my view please.
    I am told to film in interlaced not progressive, is that possible and why ?

    I am completely out of touch with current formats but gather HD and 4K are the two, I would be using Adobe premiere Pro CS3 to edit, so not sure of what format is acceptable there. This films in HD and 4K ?

    Do you have any footage of props on you tube or anywhere ?

    As for cost, I am allowed to get a unit that replicates my ability to control shutter speed and keep to 1/50 and also have applied whatever aperture is required in a variable way whilst still filming through the eyepiece. having to turn off eyepiece so as to alter aperture is nuts and they (insurance) must pay to get me beyond such. If it takes £1500 then that is what it takes. Something this size and not shoulder mounted or just large with handle is my goal else such large kit wrecks my enjoyment of the day lugging something large about all day long round a steam and vintage show or airshow along with chair etc. it wrecks use of it for such other shows , it would be a no go for holidays etc etc.

    DBenz
    Last edited by DBenz; 28th June 2017 at 21:28.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    West Sussex
    Posts
    136
    DBenz, My apologies but I did not see your further response or questions following my original reply to your first post - until now. Before I take further time to answer, are you still looking for answers to your post of 28/6/17?

    Regards,
    Steve.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    South East Essex
    Posts
    4,991
    Nothing wrong with DSLR for video. Although I am a Nikon person, Canon are better for video, with their dual pixel autofocus.
    Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

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